A new report from the New York Times reveals that former FBI Director James Comey and former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe were both audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
IRS audits are said by the agency to be rare and random. But, take a look at the Times’ headline: “Comey and McCabe, Who Infuriated Trump, Both Faced Intensive IRS Audits.”
Clearly, the implication is that former President Donald Trump had something to do with the audits because he had an ax to grind with Comey and McCabe.
The audits were of Comey’s 2017 and McCabe’s 2019 tax returns. Comey’s audit began in November 2019, and McCabe’s in October 2021. What did the IRS find? The answer is not a whole lot.
For one thing, the IRS found that Comey and his wife overpaid in 2017. So, they got a $347 refund. The IRS found that McCabe and his wife, on the other hand, underpaid, albeit by only a small amount.
The Times emphasized the hardship that the audits were to both Comey and McCabe. Comey, for example, is reported to have paid $5,000 in accountant fees. And, the reason the Times emphasized this is to bring more attention to the central idea of the article, which is that Trump used the IRS to target Comey and McCabe – his political enemies.
Is it true?
The simple answer is that we do not know for sure whether Trump used the IRS to go after Comey and McCabe.
The Times, Comey, and McCabe all suggest that Trump did. The Times does so by calling attention to the fact that IRS commissioner Charles Rettig is a Trump appointee. Comey and McCabe, on the other hand, both provided statements on the matter.
I don’t know whether anything improper happened, but after learning how unusual this audit was and how badly Trump wanted to hurt me during that time, it made sense to try to figure it out. Maybe it’s a coincidence or maybe somebody misused the I.R.S. to get at a political enemy. Given the role Trump wants to continue to play in our country, we should know the answer to that question.
McCabe was a bit less direct, saying, “the revenue agent I dealt with was professional and responsive. … Nevertheless, I have significant questions about how or why I was selected for this.”
Trump, IRS respond
Trump has denied the accusation, saying, “I have no knowledge of this.” And, the IRS insists that the audit was random, noting that Rettig has no role in choosing who is audited. It ought to further be noted that McCabe’s audit began eight months after Trump left office.
It does seem that an investigation may be launched to determine whether or not there was any political motivation behind the audits of Comey and McCabe. But, for now, there just does not appear to be enough evidence to support this claim: it’s just anti-Trump speculation.